New ex­pe­ri­ences for lo­cal stars at Twick­en­ham


‘‘I had to hold back a few tears. I was get­ting quite emo­tional but I just wanted to get on the field as well.’’

Beau­den Bar­rett had a lit­tle help as he led the All Blacks out of a tight spot in his first game as cap­tain. Luck­ily for the new­bie leader his wa­ter boy had played 107 times for his coun­try and won two World Cups.

Bar­rett had reg­u­lar skip­per Kieran Read run­ning the side­line hy­dra­tion pro­gramme in Sun­day’s 31-22 vic­tory over the Bar­bar­ians at Twick­en­ham. And the tal­ented Hur­ri­canes play­maker didn’t mind ad­mit­ting after­wards he was grate­ful for the as­sis­tance ren­dered.

A mostly sec­ond-string All Blacks side trailed 10-0 and 17-5 in the first half, and re­ally only res­cued the game with a three-try, 21-point out­burst in seven min­utes mid­way through the sec­ond spell.

‘‘I like it when my wa­ter boy brings good chat and he cer­tainly brought that,’’ said Bar­rett of the pres­ence of Read prowl­ing the side­line.

Bar­rett said Read ‘‘gave me a cou­ple of point­ers on how to deal with the ref and what to say, and that was valu­able. And there was just a sim­ple mes­sage around the game-plan and struc­tures’’.

Over­all the star All Blacks No 10 felt the cap­taincy ex­pe­ri­ence for the week had been hugely ben- efi­cial.

‘‘It was a great learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Go­ing into the week I was quite ner­vous. The haka was a great buzz. It was quite daunt­ing think­ing about it, but once we were out there I re­ally en­joyed it and go­ing for­ward I think I’ll be able to as­sist Kieran a lot bet­ter.’’

Bar­rett said the Bar­bar­ians gave them ex­actly the chal­lenge the All Blacks had an­tic­i­pated.

‘‘I was just pleased the way we bounced back. We kept it sim­ple, ad­justed our game ac­cord­ingly, ap­plied pres­sure on them and came away with the re­sult.’’

Twenty-year-old Welling­ton hooker Asafo Au­mua re­vealed it had been an emo­tional oc­ca­sion for him as he made his first All Blacks ex­pe­ri­ence off the bench.

He played just 13 min­utes, but rev­elled in ev­ery one of them.

‘‘I’m pretty speech­less right now, to put on the first cap, ‘‘ he said.

‘‘I’m hon­oured to put on the jersey and play for the boys, for my coun­try and my fam­ily.’’

The haka had been the first in­di­ca­tion for the bril­liant young­ster, who roomed with Codie Tay­lor for his first week as an All Black, that this was go­ing to be a day he would never for­get.

‘‘I had to hold back a few tears. I was get­ting quite emo­tional but I just wanted to get on the field as well.’’

Wing Waisake Na­holo, who laid on two tries, and saved an­other by win­ning a tight race back against Baabaas star Kwagga Smith, felt it had been an im­per­fect tour opener.

‘‘It felt like we were all over the show,’’ said Na­holo.

‘‘We didn’t con­nect very well. I think nerves got us ... it felt like we were try­ing a bit too hard. The lead­ers were talk­ing to us about fo­cus­ing on the next task and go from there.’’

And on Smith: ‘‘Wow, he’s fast. I was a bit wor­ried there for a bit, and thought he was go­ing to beat me to the ball. I might have snapped my ham­string if I had to go any faster.’’


Beau­den Bar­rett lifts the tro­phy af­ter the All Blacks de­feated the Bar­bar­ians at Twick­en­ham. Left, Asafo Au­mua at train­ing be­fore the match.

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